NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 6, 2007

There has been a stunning decline in the fertility rate in Mexico, which means that, in a few years, there will not be nearly as many teenagers in Mexico looking for work in the United States or anywhere else.  If this trend in the fertility rate continues, Mexico will resemble Japan and Italy -- rapidly aging populations with too few young workers to support the economy, says Robert M. Dunn Jr., a professor of economics at George Washington University.

According to the World Bank's 2007 Annual Development Indicators:

  • In 1990 Mexico had a total lifetime fertility rate of 3.3 children per female, but by 2005, that number had fallen by 36 percent to 2.1, which is the "break even" point for population stability in developed nations.
  • The large number of women currently in their reproductive years means that there are still quite a few babies, but as this group ages, the number of infants will decline sharply.
  • If this trend toward fewer children continues, there being no apparent reason for it to cease, the number of young people in the Mexican population will decline significantly just when the number of elderly is rising.
  • As labor markets in Mexico tighten and wage rates rise, far fewer Mexican youngsters will be interested in coming to the United States.
  • Since our baby boomers will be retiring at the same time, we could face a severe labor shortage.   

Some politicians fear that we are being "Mexicanized."  In fact the opposite may be underway, says Dunn.

The main point for the United States is that we have only a temporary problem with illegal immigration from Mexico.  For another decade or a bit more we must attempt to limit such entry, but then the problem will fade, says Dunn.

Source: Robert M. Dunn, Jr., "Mexican Immigration Will Solve Itself,", June 29, 2007.


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